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The Blogger Chronicles, Conclusion

Conclusion of a series on blogging.

Roman woman writingMy husband is forbidding me screen time.

“This is taking you too long.”

Yes, indeed, it was.  It was sundown by the time I took my walk on Monday after an 8-hour marathon putting together some of the pieces for my series of “featurettes” on blogging.  I got a little faster/hastier as I went along, slapping quotes up on the screen and realizing that was enough for a blog. But it was tiring, my feature-writing skills were rusty, and, as my husband pointed out, “You aren’t getting paid.”

On the other hand, I learned an amazing amount about bloggers, writers, and critics from the questionnaires and interviews.

1.  Bloggers mean no harm.  Some write book journals, others write reviews.  We are writing for ourselves, or, in most cases, a small audience.   We try to write with integrity and are interested in reading other bloggers’ genuine opinions of books.   None of the bloggers I interviewed courts publicists and publishers (only two receive books from publishers regularly).  We are not interested in promoting books, or reading promotions of books determined by chance gifts from a publisher.

As Tony of Tony’s Book World said, “If a blogger likes everything, that’s not very helpful.”

And as Susan of Pages Turned said, “Anyway, at least I am totally over being used as a marketing tool…. I really wish everyone would just start writing about the books they really like so that we could all find the other bloggers who share our tastes, our sensibilities, instead of offering up yet another generic review on whatever’s being published this month because that’s what the marketers want.”

2.  Critics have a different process.  They polish their essays; they don’t post and run.  Their work is important, because where would we be without the thoughtful writers who analyze books in major book review publications, even if we disagree with their judgment?

3.  Novelists are not necessarily selling their books through blogs and Amazon reviews (as I had thought).   D. J. Taylor, a novelist, biographer and critic, Sherry Jones, a historical fiction writer, and Jo-Ann Mapson, an author of women’s fiction, have all had mixed experiences with online reviews, finding some thoughtful, others vacuous.  Some of Taylor’s online reviewers at Amazon UK expected Nazis to stomp through his counterfactual (or alternate) history, The Windsor Faction, though others understood his work; and, while Jones, the author of Four Sisters All Queens, appreciates what blogs have done for her books, she points out that most have only a few hundred followers, so it is “a drop in the proverbial bucket.”

As Mapson, author of Solomon’s Oak and Finding Casey, says, “Often I look at the 1 star reviews, click on what else they’ve reviewed, finding something unrelated such as vacuum cleaner bags.  But every day one site or another sends me reading suggestions, and I often do buy the book.”

4 thoughts on “The Blogger Chronicles, Conclusion

  1. This was a very interesting series of posts, Kat, and thank you for taking the time to put them together. No, we aren’t getting paid :) and maybe that’s where the main difference lies between bloggers and professional reviewers. At the end of the day, the ‘good’ blogs are doing this for the love of it and that’s why I read and trust the blogs I like! Thanks for provoking many thoughts!

  2. Yes, Karen, we are doing it for love! I’m sure there are bloggers out there who are writing nasty stuff, but I don’t patronize their blogs, thank God.

  3. Oh I do have to be a bit picky.
    “Critics have a different process. They polish their essays; they don’t post and run.”
    I believe bloggers usually do spend some time polishing their writing. It is the quality of writing that makes or breaks the blog or the critic.

  4. Tony, you are a very thoughtful reviewer. Maybe I should go back and write something sterner.:) I guess I’m thinking that some of us are not writing formal reviews, and that Michael Dirda is a critic, as opposed to a reviewer. I don’t know where I’d be without professional book review publications, because they do teach us about form. Certainly I’ve read them for most of my adult life. I can’t spend as much time on my blog as I would if I were “selling” my pieces. It STILL takes forever.

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